Western Iowa Tech Community College (WITCC) is known for providing its diverse community of 6,000 students with a wide range of college and career opportunities. For nearly a decade, WITCC has been integrating technology into its educational experience, with the goal of preparing students for the digital world.
The journey began in 2011 when Mike Logan, the dean of information technology at WITCC, and his team started connecting the college’s five campuses and expanding technology access for all students. The initiative included setting up free, high-speed Wi-Fi in every building and issuing Macbooks loaded with curriculum-specific software to every student. This move aimed to level the playing field for students, regardless of their financial situation.
WITCC also created virtual classrooms to connect its campuses in different counties. These virtual classrooms, powered by Zoom Rooms, allowed the college to provide greater access to courses that were not available at every campus. For example, high school students could take college credit courses by accessing classes over Zoom from another campus.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, WITCC was well-prepared. All classes already had an online component, and the college quickly transitioned to remote learning using Zoom. However, one challenge remained – the college’s phone system. WITCC decided to replace its previous phone system to ensure seamless communication even when everyone was working remotely.
After considering various options, WITCC chose Zoom Phone as the most affordable and familiar solution. The college worked with Zoom’s Professional Services Organization (PSO) team to roll out Zoom Phone across the campus. The implementation project was a great success, with no interruption in service.
One of the key benefits of using Zoom Phone was the flexibility it provided to employees. They could work from anywhere, no longer chained to their desks. Even the phone operator, who initially resisted the idea of a softphone, embraced the functionality of Zoom Phone and found it easy to use.
Zoom Phone also enabled an employee who is deaf to work at WITCC’s IT help desk. Using the voicemail transcription feature, the employee could review transcripts of callers’ messages and provide support via chat or SMS text. This feature allowed her to interact with customers in a way she had never been able to before.
Looking ahead, WITCC aims to continue using technology to simplify teaching and learning. Logan and his team are working on expanding the use of digital whiteboards in classrooms, making it easier for students to access and interact with content. By integrating tools like Zoom and Canvas, WITCC creates a seamless learning experience for students attending both online and in person.
WITCC’s commitment to utilizing technology to enhance education has proven successful. By embracing platforms like Zoom and integrating them into their educational ecosystem, WITCC has made education more accessible, interactive, and flexible for its students and faculty.
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